Arrogant Swine

Beer Hall Carolina Whole Hog BBQ

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Top 10 Hits Whole Hoggin' in 2013

Generally it's a bad idea to do a wrap up of your year on the last day of the year. Realistically there should be a few days of introspection. Clear the co-webs, untangle the strands, sensationalize victories and come up with excuses for failures. Nope none of that here. Been busy fighting down to the wire to get all my goals accomplished for this year. Alas the final goal of signing a lease on a spot alluded me. I expect to get there in a few weeks.

So here's some best hits of Uncle Ho's year in BBQ and what a year it's been.

#1 My hair is gone! 

For those who know me, I've always had a full head of hair. My hair style itself has remained more or less unchanged since college. So when 2013 began I declared that this year will not only be different, it will be RADICALLY different. Now for a budding BBQ guy there isn't much radical revolution one can do the freezing January 5th weather, so I shaved my head. Certainly not the craziest thing one can do but I wanted to start off the year completely different and so my long locks had to go. The theme of making this a dramatically different year, I actually quit my long time job to focus full time on the Swine. Despite years of attempting to get canned it seemed like my employer loved me enough to keep me around and continually promote me. So if I was gonna make a change I was going to take the plunge into the uncertain BBQ waters.

#2 The public gets to know Arrogant Swine - aPORKalypse 2013 

I did my very first public appearance as the Arrogant Swine at Alewife's annual aPORKalypse event where my pork was featured with a whole host of other chefs doing fancy things to pigs along with pours of great American craft beers. Following the Steve Jobs' philosophy to shamelessly steal great ideas, I decided then and there that to best honor the religion of Carolina whole hog BBQ, it must always be a party. Whole hog BBQ has and will always be in the context of partying with those you love. My BBQ will not be a foodie BBQ. It will not be there to serve the short attention spans of those who constantly seek out the latest culinary hit. My BBQ will not be divorced from the assembly of friends and strangers to one place. A place where the beers flow with laughter and the music is only extra sauce you need. This seed was the vision for the Hog Days of Summer.

#3 The SWINE trailer shows up at the Big Apple BBQ Festival 

Like Xmas, our favorite time of year rolls back around when the Big Apple BBQ block party comes back to town. This time however the massive Arrogant Swine trailer cooks with my teacher, the Godfather of North Carolina BBQ - Ed Mitchell. It threatens to rain every single year at the BABBP but this year the storm definitely delivered! Cascading downpours drenched us to to core on the Friday before the big day and the storms delayed the rest of the pit crew and their pits coming in! Good thing we had my smoker there to get things started. Otherwise there wouldn't have been any hog to serve when the doors opened at Team Ed!!

#4 The Hog Days of Summer!! 

Now if you're an intelligent person, you would do small pop-ups. 20/30 person ones where you test your system and see how it holds up. You avoid sticky issues like pouring alcohol and letting folks drink as much as they want. An intelligent person wouldn't try and pull off 14 sessions of beer + BBQ + music events where seatings ranged from 80 to 200 persons! Well we all know where I fell on the intelligence scale. As a full testament to the fact that God watches over children, animals and fools, we managed to pull off some pretty respectable events by taking over construction lots, getting the wonderful folks over at Founder's Brewery to supply us beer, and bring in some awesome musicians like Blind Boy Paxton and Garage Sale. Every session got their own 220-260 pound heritage breed hog from Tamarack Hollow farms. Without the support and love of Josh and Philip of John Brown Smokehouse none of this would have been possible.

#5 Keeping up my duties at John Brown Smokehouse 

While Arrogant Swine is my main shop I still function as the resident Whole Hog guy for John Brown Smokehouse. So if you place an order for hog there, you'll see me pull up with my smoker. Definitely the best catering we've done ever has been this wedding by the beach in July. JBS pitmaster Josh Bowen and I packed up the smoker and drove up to Connecticut for 2 days to cater. In between shoveling hot coals under my hog, I took naps next to the beautiful Long Island Sound. There are worst ways of making a living than getting paid to lounge around listening to calling gulls and breathing in ocean breezes.

#6 Getting some press! 

Seems like some people like what we're doing! We got picked up by one of NYC's largest food sites Serious Eats being named one of the Editor's best bites of 2013. The New York Daily News listed us as one of the best ways to end the summer. We also got a whole lot of blogger love from We Heart Astoria, Tastoria, Chopsticks & Marrow, the Food Network blog, Local Bozo, Harmonious Belly, Fooditka,

Oh if that wasn't fun enough I got my own ARBY'S VIDEO!!!!! Arby's Sandwiches started a national campaign to promote their new BBQ sandwich. As part of that promotion they decided they were going to feature several experts to talk about their regional style. I got to represent Carolina whole hog. I hope I did my faith the justice she deserves.

#7 Keeping up with the events circuit 

I like being part of events and got to cook for several including the 2013 NYC Hot Sauce ExpoQueens Summerbeat in Sunnyside Gardens with Edible Queens, QueensTech Bash at PS 1 MoMA. Chief among this was my collaboration with THE authority on Mexican cuisine - Zarela Martinez when we cooked for this year's PIG ISLAND event. I even threw in a fun Jewish pork dinner called Sacred & Profane

#8  Starting my catering business 

It's fun to have a hobby but it's even more fun to get paid for it! I got to do a fair bit of catering all around town this year. Included with this were corporate clients including Crossfit Queens, real estate giant Jamestown LP, national accounting firm McGladrey & Co, and the Bronx Zoo.

#9 Making new friends 

Along with a whole host of fun food business friends I made over the year I got to make friends with local pitmasters Bill Durney (Hometown BBQ), Matt Fisher (Fletcher's BBQ), and Frank Davis (Beast of Bourbon). That they count me as a peer is an honor indeed.

#10 The SWINE is coming!

I still haven't got a lease signed yet. That's the one really crappy part about real estate hunting, you fall in love with a space and the landlord flakes on you. A space we put in a ton of work doing environmental research for the landlord in Greenpoint just died on the vine. Turns out the landlord got cold feet on having a food business tenant and won't say yes. Also turns out the jack off isn't getting any bids for his potential superfund site so he's holding on to us just in case. We have to bids now on some very exciting spaces even more exciting than my original target so fingers crossed. Either way, the Arrogant Swine is coming and we're hoping to finally have a permanent home to fly the flag of Carolina whole Hog BBQ here in NYC.

The year started with no more detailed plan than "this year is gonna be dramatically different" and well I went for broke. I left behind all that was familiar and comfortable. I tossed slow and steady for the tumultuous chaos of entrepreneurship. A college mentor gave me the greatest life attitude which has been good to me - Constantly imagine yourself climbing up a forbidding mountain. It looks like you'll never get to the top but looking down you realize you're farther along than when you first started and you're higher up than you ever imagined you could have gone when the adventure first started.

I have much planned for 2014 I hope you'll like it. Hope to feed you some swine soon.

North Carolina Whole Hog BBQ video

I've always wanted to make some videos. What I've never dreamed up was making videos with me on camera. So this was a fun way for me to tip my toes in the water. The black & white photos are from the North Carolina State Archives of an old school pig picking. Midway thru the video I added some of the work that we've been doing to bring North Carolina whole hog to New York. So the video is an attempt tie the past of our great tradition with our current work. Hope you enjoy! [youtube=http://youtu.be/jlpltoGi_vQ]

BBQ ROADTRIP!!! : Hursey's BBQ – Burlington, NC

20130516_145910 More Photos Below!!

Back in the spring I took some friends down to North Carolina on a mini-food tour. As I was out to pick up my new smoker anyway I figured some company and gas aid would be beneficial. I've long used the NCBS Historical Barbecue Trail map to find my next destination. Now to find new places to eat keeps getting harder and harder as I’ve eaten at over 50% of the list so the places are getting more and more obscure.

Thus we made our first stop after a solid 9 hour drive from NYC to Hursey’s Barbecue. Being that Hursey’s was the unknown joint, I planned for us to hit the legendary Allen & Son’s immediately afterwards where I knew the BBQ to be amazing. Good thing too as we might not have left my guests with as great of an impression of NC BBQ at stop #1.

I’ve always said that the “Triangle” area of North Carolina (Durham, Raleigh, Chapel Hill) was a good divider of the Eastern and Western BBQ styles of the State. Hursey’s is like Allen’s in that they combine features of East & West. Whereas Allen’s leans East, Hursey’s definitely leans West.

The one good thing about Hursey’s is that it still cooks over wood, a laud worthy characteristic in a region that long forsaken its BBQ heritage.  According to  the trail map they cook a mixture of shoulders (80%) and hams (20%). The sauce is a tomato based Western sauce but the pork is paired with an Eastern style creamy slaw. I didn’t find the pork all that flavorful as it was lacking in both smoke and moisture.

As was the practice throughout our entire BBQ tour we basically ordered everything on the menu so that we can all get a little sample of what the joint has to offer. One of the regrettable choices was to get the babyback ribs. Almost without fail in North Carolina, it’s a really really bad idea to order the ribs. Whereas traditional BBQ guys in the State are very stringent on their cooking methods for whole hog or shoulder, ribs are not considered BBQ are therefore are fair game for short cuts. The one exception to that rule might be 12 Bones in Asheville, a favorite of President Barack Obama.

As I should have expected, the ribs were boiled and then painted with sauce. Now normally this doesn’t work out all that badly as the Chili’s babyback ribs are boiled and sauced with little issue. The problem is that the “sauce” used for North Carolina BBQ is very thin and doesn’t really adhere to boiled ribs. Caveat Emptor on ribs in North Carolina!!

Other items on the menu were wonderful. We had some juicy broasted chicken. Broasted chicken, for the uninitiated, is chicken that’s fried in a pressure cooker. We finished off our meal with a fantastic peach cobbler and a properly done banana pudding.

I wouldn’t place Hursey’s on a must try category. But if you’re ever in the area it’s worth a stop in. It’s the only BBQ joint for a few miles I believe.

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BBQ ROADTRIP!!! : B's Barbecue - Greenville, NC

B's_Barbecue_01[1]  

More photos below!!

Complimenting a barbecue joint's chicken is akin to trying to pair a smoking hot girl with your ugly friend by telling her "he got a great personality".

As far as I know there's only only two major joints in the country whose chicken shares place of pride - Big Bob Gibson's in Decatur, AL & B's Barbecue in Greenville, NC. Big Bob's largely because of it's unique practice of dunking the entire finished bird in their trademark white sauce.

B's is a well known fixture in the whole hog world. They clear through an average of 40 hogs a week cooking all night over charcoal. They make a very tasty hog. But interesting enough many many people have high praises for their chicken!

So what is the deal with this chicken? I wasn't even planning on ordering it because, quite frankly, who cares about chicken?? My gluttonous friends on the other hand had to have it, so we got a spread of corn sticks, hog, slaw, and chicken.

Taking a bite I finally got what people were saying about the chicken. It was crispy, toasted, juicy and very very well seasoned. But there's something else there. A secret ingredient. An edge. I took another bite and didn't sense anything unusual in terms of spices. But then I sniffed the bird. AAAAAAH. That's it! The secret. The single reason why everyone loves B's chicken. That little extra something that no one could articulate. It's HOG FAT!!!!!!!

You see, the chicken goes on in the morning after the hogs come off the pits. These hog have been sitting over glowing coal all night dripping juice and grease into the ashes. So when they fire up new coal to cook the chicken, they're smoking up the residual hog grease back up into the birds giving them a porky aroma!!

Well there you go. I just gave you the secret recipe to B's chicken. Step 1 smoke a few hogs.... Anyone want to steal that?

B's cornsticks are the single best in North Carolina. I'm not normally a fan of corn sticks as they're normally dense and hard. These were fried to flaky shattering work of art. I still won't order cornsticks when I visit other BBQ joints but if you don't get them here at B's you're missing out.

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Reflections on the Hog Days of Summer

See all the photos HERE

Thus far we have completed three Hog Days of Summer events. And with the craziness relatively contained I figure it’d be a good time to write some reflections.

First off, it’s an otherworldly feeling to see “your” event. I’ve been part of many other people’s events as my own table. Whether it be the Hot Sauce Expo or aPORKalypse 2013, I was part of the show and not the producer. So to see a massive banner produced by the award winning Founder’s Brewery bearing the words “Arrogant Swine Presents” – otherworldly.

One of the things that surprised me was that I actually have repeat guests. My picture was that people would come to the events and make it one of many different fun things they’d would be doing this summer. It’s extremely flattering that not only people like the event; they actually keep coming back for more!

It’s still an oddity when someone comes up to me afterwards and thanks ME for putting the events together. People are spending their hard earned dollars and their free time to join me for a Saturday afternoon or evening. If anything I’m the one who should be thanking THEM!! And indeed I am extremely thankful that people are willing to share in my craziness.

Cooking hogs once in a while and doing it for several events and caterings in a row is night and day. I’ve been able to pick up lots of new tricks this summer - Everything from how to transport the animal to modifying the preparation for line service.

Our hogs seem to be a hit all summer with people coming back on line for 3 or more servings! It’s also a confirmation that people of New York do indeed appreciate traditional North Carolina BBQ the way it was intended to be served. Many “Carolina-style” places seem ashamed of the traditions and seek to doctor them up with sugar and thickeners.

Founder’s selection of craft beer continues to be a hit all summer and we are most definitely blessed that a brewer of their caliber agreed to partner up with us for these events. Their All Day IPA is unquestionably THE BEER of the summer. Full of flavor yet perfect for a hot summer’s afternoon.

Twitter Contest!!!

SOURCE: BOUSEL.COM

Hi All

I've been away from blogging because of my ongoing summer BBQ series the NYC HOG DAYS OF SUMMER.

I'm hoping to get back to posting fairing soon. For now I'm announcing an ongoing twitter contest.

The rules are simple.

#1 Copy this text: Join me for BBQ & unlimited @foundersbrewing BEER! http://bit.ly/17IO8Wf #hogdaysofsummer

#2 Tweet it to all your followers on twitter.

Done!  I will choose one winner on 7/21 who will recieve 2 VIP tickets for the August and September events. Where you will drink unlimited pourings of Founders Brewery beer and my North Carolina BBQ HOG!!!

While you're at it. Follow me on Twitter at @ArrogantSwine

and like MY PAGE on Facebook

Win some free hog!!

BBQ ROADTRIP!!! : Bum Restaurant - Ayden, NC

Bum's_BBQ_02[1] Quick! Name one of the top 3 greatest Heavy-weight boxers in history. You might mention Mike Tyson, or Evander Holyfield, and you'll definitely mention Muhammad Ali. Especially the latter as he spent most of his career calling himself the greatest. Poor Joe Louis. 12 years reigning as world champion. 25 successful title defenses (Ali had a mere 19). To this day there has not been a similar dominance in any weight division.

Unfortunately for Joe he was neither as well spoken or good looking as Ali.  Hence why none of us know about him. I feel the same way about Bum's Restaurant in Ayden, NC.

Ayden is a mecca for whole hog lovers. For decades the Skylight Inn has held the platonic ideal of swine cookery. Their familial cousin Lathan "Bum" Dennis cooks hogs in the exact same fashion and fails to get the same cred for no other reason than Skylight Inn exists in the same town. For God's sake they're not even on the North Carolina BBQ Society Trail!!! This last part is particularly irksome to me because Bum's barbecue is really really good and there's plenty of other joints on the Trail list that taste like ass and are coasting on their reputations.

Aside from my urge to root for the underdog, Bum's really is very good. The pork is not hacked to a tuna fish consistency, juicy, and lightly smokey with lots of little nuggets of crispy skin. Their side dishes are easily the best in the state. No exaggeration there. This is real country eating here filled with soul feeding vegetables. Eastern Carolina corn sticks and pork rinds are available to add just enough crunch.

And the fried chicken. Oh the FRIED CHICKEN! Eastern Carolina whole hog BBQ is usually paired with fried chicken. Traditional giants like Wilbur's, Parker's both serve fried chicken with their hogs. Bum's chicken beats them both. I'm all down for great whole hog, but when you got great whole hog and finger licking fried chicken - oh my....

A proper banana pudding topped with warm southern meringue finishes off the meal.

As you can see I have a particular affection for Bum's. As practitioner of the art and as a traveled eater, I find it an utter travesty that Bum's is never mentioned when talking about top BBQ joints in North Carolina. The NC BBQ Society Trail list is a wonderful tool and there's other sources which basically name the same big name spots. But do yourself a favor, many of those big names are for tourists - Bum's is for those in the know.

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5 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Cook Heritage Breeds for Whole Hog BBQ

Now given that I already wrote why you should cook heritage breed hogs for whole hog BBQ I'm giving you the other side of the story and reasons why you wouldn't want to use rare breeds.

#1 It's Expensive.

Hell this might as well be the reason for #1-#4 with #5 being "Did I mention it's expensive?".

Cuban cigars are not the best cigars in the world. Some of the best cigars in the world are Cuban and I smoke a decent amount of them. To the average person the difference between a decent Cuban cigar and one from Honduras is indiscernible. This is because people don't smoke that many cigars.  People also don't go around tasting different breeds of pigs. So one might argue that unless you had a particularly gifted palate you're not likely to tell the difference between supermarket pork and heritage pork.

#2 It's Inconsistent 

There is basically no industry standards for heritage breeding. Much of it is self policing and many of the animal traders have to deal with rampant fraud. While people like to look down on "Factory Farming", there is a distinct advantage to factories - everything is uniform. Any chef working with grass fed cattle will tell you that one steak might be the most glorious piece of meat you've ever stuffed in your maws and the next one will taste like gym sneakers. All from the same farm too!

#3 Sourcing is a pain in the ARSE. 

When I want a plain regular hog for a client, I place an order with the same commerical butcher I have used for the past 3 years. I tell him how big and when I need to pick it up and I pay less than what most NYC restaurants pay for pig. When sourcing from a farm on the other hand, you need to call up an entire network of farms to see who might have your size ready at that moment. Pigs are not products that can be made on the spot. Thus because there's much less of the animal on these small farms, it's a pain to fill my order on size. If I'm too late to their slaughter season only a larger animal is available. If too early I might be stuck with two 60lbers when I really wanted one 140lb animal. Oh and yes, I have to pay more for this inconvenience.

#4 It can be a fire hazard 

What makes heritage breeds so tasty? Because they're largely bacon or lard hogs. All that fat keeps the meat juicy and gives your a nice succulent end product. Much of your flavor profile in Carolina BBQ is that grease dripping on the hardwood embers creating smoke.

But it also brings you the added risk of grease fire. Grease fires are no joke. Down in West Tennessee, insurance companies will not insure smokehouses because these grease fires have consumed entire buildings. They cooked a 280lb Mangalista pig, a particularly fatty breed, at last year's Southern Foodways Symposium and I felt for the 2 poor pitmasters. They basically had to get that beast cooked by a deadline without creating the greatest pyro-technic display in history. I don't care how many hogs you've cooked in your life, if you are dealing with that much grease and live fire, it makes you breathe just a bit more shallower. I did a 260lb Gloucestershire a few weeks back and that alone gave me missed heart beat moments.

#5 None of the best Hog masters use it.

Sam Jones, Dexter Sherrod, Rodney Scott, Ed Mitchell etc, all the biggest names in whole hog cooking. All who have made dramatic life altering BBQ have done so with commodity pork. Now you might argue that they might produce better BBQ with better pigs and I happen to agree with that sentiment. But at the core of the art of hog cookery is the techniques of fire management that brings about nirvanic flavors.

 

 

 

5 Reasons Why You Should Cook Heritage Breeds for Whole Hog BBQ

Now there’s a fairly zealous group calling for raising heritage breed produce. Calls for sustainable eating, old world farming etc. I wouldn’t say I’m deeply in that camp. Do heritage variety of tomatoes raised without pesticides taste better? Yes they do. But I like my generic tomatoes just fine and quite frankly the heritage stuff looks pretty ugly.

I do have a soft spot for preserving old world breed pigs though. They cost a whole lot more but I will outline 5 reasons why people doing whole hog BBQ should cook with heritage breed hogs.

#1 They taste better.

You really can’t beat the flavor of an old-school pig. Anyone’s whose had to choke down a dry pork loin will tell you something is amiss here. The term “eating high on the hog” comes from the fact that when hogs were cooked for barbecues pre civil war, the white masters got the loins sitting on of the back of the pig whereas the slaves got to eat everything else. Well if we were to go by our supermarket pork loins you might get the impressions that the folks down south didn’t really know jack about eating. To add insult to injury, the only way one can enjoy loins is to brine them. That’s right, the prize cut of meat on the pig needs to be bombed by a sodium solution to be palpable with all the flavor complexities cheap deli meat could provide.

When you get an old school heritage pig and your pull out the loins of a hog like the Gloucestershire Old Spot, it makes your heart skip a beat. It’s dripping with moisture slowly confit in it’s own backfat. I’ve had plenty of people who have eaten both my barbecues with heritage pigs and with regular commercial pigs who have told me I did a better job with the heritage pig. It’s not my technique being any different. The pig really does taste that much better!

#2 The Carolina dressings FINALLY make sense.

Now think about this for a second. Who in their right minds drowns their food in vinegar or mustard? Hardly subtle flavors are they? We tend to like the acidity or acridity of vinegar and mustard, respectively, when things are either very fatty or very salty. We like malt vinegars with French fries. We like mustard on salty pretzels. A poached chicken breast with vinegar or mustard sounds absolutely atrocious. There’s no counter balance for the weighty flavors of vinegar or mustard.

There are many who hate the vinegar pepper sauce. The mustard sauce on BBQ seems to make as much sense as round square. Most people “fix” these sauces by introducing a high level of sweetness to the sauce. This however was not the intention of Carolina pitmasters. The reason they used these seasonings were because of the fatty pigs they used. When you do a pig picking with a heritage breed hog and you see all that golden clear running fat, the vinegar or mustard just makes a whole world of sense.

#3 You can incubate hog farmers.

Most heritage breed hog farmers can’t supply restaurants. The reason for this is that restaurants order cuts, not animals. They place orders 50lbs at a time of chops, loins, and belly. Well this leaves the other four corners of the hog to get rid up. Even farmers who do fill these orders have to then end up grinding up the hams and shoulders for sausage meat, lowering their overall profit margins per pound. By ordering the whole animal, it keeps the farmers producing hogs for orders they can fill at a good return.

#4 It helps bring the price down for everyone

Let’s be perfectly honest. People will put up with sub-par food if the price is right. Is Taco Bell great food? Absolutely not. But at 10:30pm when I’m home late from work it’s quick, cheap, and does the job just fine. Plus I look forward to their churro dessert.

I believe there’s some campaign where people are encouraging others to eat less meat but better meat like pasture pork, grass feed beef, free range chickens etc. This is a very admirable and an ethically proper way of thinking; it’s also inefficient and will not produce widespread consumption of heritage breeds. It is like the morality that prevents condom distribution in high schools in favor of abstinence to reduce teen pregnancies. We simply cannot moralize our way out of a problem.

By getting more people to like and love the flavor of heritage breeds we can drive enough demand that farmers can safely begin increasing supply. Simple economics – increasing the supply in the market makes it cheaper for us all. Starbucks is wildly more expensive than regular deli coffee, but deli coffee tastes like ass and Starbucks is not prohibitively expensive. This is why we are willing to put up with the premiums that Starbucks charges and is a fantastic model of where heritage pork needs to be.

#5 It makes for the greatest secret ingredient ever

Well not that secret given that if you’re paying that much for heritage pork you might as well like everyone know about it. But everyone looks for a signature edge. From a professional cooking background the secrets in BBQ are both silly and useless. Professional kitchens hold what are known as “Stages”.

In these, the stagire cook works for free doing the most menial tasks for the opportunity to learn another chef’s recipes. I’ve done several myself at big name places like Le Bernardin, Payard, and La Caravelle in New York City years ago. In them I peeled carrots, mixed pastries, prepped raviolis, basically any and everything that the other cook on the station didn’t want to do. In exchange recipes were freely offered. Nothing was ever held back. People would take out their own notepads and let me copy down their notes and then show me live how that restaurant did things.

So rather than hunt around for some special ingredient by walking down the supermarket isle and getting inspired. It makes more sense to have a very poignant ingredient up front and person. You can mix in obscure Indonesian spices all you like, nothing will beat just having a better hog.

John Brown Day!!! 260lb Gloucestershire Whole Hog BBQ

IMG_20130407_161132[2] See all the Event Photos HERE

John Brown Smokehouse brings LIC the best in good times. Who else in New York throws an event involving Harvard Professors, Blues Legends, and their own in-house Hog expert? As far as I know, John Brown is the only BBQ joint in New York with a person on hand whose sole job is to smoke entire pigs. Along with the festivities we had a congressman proclaim April 7th as John Brown Day with the smokehouse getting a large framed copy of the proclamation.

My mission was to smoke a 260lb pasture raised Gloucestershire Hog. That’s right. I had to cook a beast  who weighed more than the average NFL linebacker. The head alone weighed close to 50 and was larger than my chest. Now I don’t get that intimidated by large animals but this was pretty ridiculous. I approached this challenge with the biggest grin on my face ever.

Friday night we dragged my smoker over to JBS to get her situated. The plan was for the pig to go on at 9pm Saturday evening for over 18 hours of cooking.

Then at 3pm Saturday afternoon I get a call from my buddy Josh that the smoker was missing!

So aside from the fact that it really really royally blows to have someone jack your smoker. It doesn’t help that it’s compounded with the fact that I really needed to use it in 6 hours!!!  The mission then was to find a smoker with the capacity to handle my porcine leviathan. I could have driven up to Bridgeport, CT to grab my monster trailer but the logistics just were not there. We did have one offer to borrow two PR60 hog smokers but they were not on trailers and weighed over 300lbs each. This would require us trying to lift and fit these smokers on the back of my truck. Hernia and possible roadside accident awaited us.

Then we got word that Matt Fisher, one of the biggest wigs in the NYC BBQ pantheon, was willing to lend us his large reverse-flow smoker.

So it was a mad rush to get to Staten Island to pick up this smoker and get it to Long Island City. It was already 6pm by the time we started rolling. My chief logistics guy, Matt, darn near gave me a heart attack getting there. You have never seen a quarter ton pickup truck weave thru traffic that fast.

There seemed to have been some miscommunication in what ball size the trailer hitch was supposed to use and the smoker actually came OFF THE TRUCK!!! Thank Jesus we actually chained it in otherwise we might have made the 8PM news. Heck that would have been the first newspaper report about me ever. “Giant smoker smashes into BMW on Hwy 287”.

So after indeed having an heart attack, we reattached the smoker and wrapped the trailer ball with every cord, string, paper clip we had on us. Keep in mind that we are on the freakin’ HIGHWAY!!

I’m a decently religious guy but I’m fairly confident I have never prayed so hard in my life the whole 35mph trip back to Queens. Every bump and rattle made me die just a little more inside. Ever been on adrenaline for 40mins straight? Yeah no fun. I was more wound up than a cat left at the dog pound.

So now 11:30pm we finally got the hog prepped and thrown on to the smoker. Because it wasn’t a Carolina style hog cooker we needed to cut the animal straight down the spine and put her on 2 tiers.

Reverse flow cooking isn’t my favorite for hog. Fantastic for almost every other BBQ cut. But beggars can’t be choosers right? The one issue was after 9 hours of cooking the ash build up was keeping me from holding temp the way I wanted to. Essentially all that ash was choking off the airflow to my coals. Removing the ash was painful as the metal expanded making it almost impossible to pull out. We had 3 guys get it out and then push it back in.

By 4pm Sunday afternoon the hog was done and I actually had a chance to do some artistic arranging of the animal as you see in the photos.

As our Carolina custom, we pulled the meat, chopped it up with some of the crispy skin and seasoned it with my vinegar pepper sauce. The one GREAT thing about heritage breed hogs is the fat. All the lovely rendered pig lipid was just gushing out as we pulled the swine. This is was helps balance out the vinegar and mustard sauces that the Carolinas are so well known for. The issue people have with that isn’t due to the sauce; it’s due to our lean produced modern pigs.

The crowd loved the BBQ especially one of my bigger fans whose birthday it was. You’ll see her and her boyfriend in the photos. I figured what a better birthday gift than a Hog Drumstick? Seems like everyone got a big chomp out of it.

A gentleman from South Carolina told me the pork reminded him of home. All the affirmation I needed.

So despite our harrowing journey to the goal, we hit the finish line. A shout out to my crew not the least being fellow blogger WDM, will be coming tomorrow. Despite working with a new smoker and an bigger animal than I have ever cooked, we were able to produce amazing BBQ. Lots of big name pitmasters in New York were on hand to sample my pork and offer moral support. It was an amazing night.

The guests of John Brown Smokehouse were MORE than generous in tossing money into a collection bucket to help me get a new smoker. We collected over $300 that evening. While I might have been impressed with the size of my massive heritage breed hog, the hearts of our guests were far larger.

See all the Event Photos HERE

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Hog Display

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